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" It's Mr. Dove. He died last night. I'm going out
now to get in some supplies."

Brooke motioned her to stand aside and walked into
the living room. The laboratory door was open and he
could see the outline of something on trestles and a bit of
Andrea's skirt where she sat beside it. The woman fol-
lowed him until he entered and she saw Andrea's face, as


she caught sight of him, and then she went out and left
them. Brooke felt himself shuddering all over. It was
new to him. He had not shuddered in battle, but this
present tremor was because he had seen Andrea as dead.
She was entirely composed. She even looked up smil-

' I hoped you'd come," she said. " I've got something
to tell you. I shall be going away at once. Father's
gone, you see. I couldn't stay here without him."

For a moment he thought she meant she had resolved
to go the road her father had taken, but at once he saw
that was not so. She was regarding the world " but as
the world."

" Of course you must go away," he answered. " You'll
come to us."

That she might not have heard, for she paid no atten-
tion to it.

" I shall go to New York," she said. " I shall work for
speed, my stenography, you know. Then I can get
a job. But that isn't it," she continued quickly, to fore-
stall him. ' I sha'n't see any of you again, and so I want
to say now, while father's here ' She paused a moment
and put her hand to her throat as if it hurt her. " He
never would have let me do it," she went on, " never,
never, if he'd been himself. Mother never would. But
they don't blame me. They've been lovely " Here
she stopped again, with that pathetic hand at her throat,
and he advanced a pace and took the hand and held it

" What 's the use of talking," he said, " when I know?
There's never anything you need say to me."

' Oh, yes, there is," said Andrea, smiling at him and
leaving the hand in his, very glad it was there to help
her through her trial. " You don't know this. I never


saw your brother. I saw his picture at your house, and
I thought it was you and you were killed, and I told your
father and mother their son had married me. I did it for
money. That was precisely what I did it for, for

She did not look up at him and he stood staring at the
line her lashes made. When she did look up, it was not at
him but at that covered immobility which had been her
father, as if to gain courage from it.

" And I've got my father back," she said dreamily and
most happily. "He hasn't been himself, not for years;
but last night before he called me ' There she paused,
knowing she could not go into that with any chance of
making herself understood, and Brooke gripped her hand
and could say nothing.

" You hurt my hand," said Andrea, with another little
smile that thanked him for the hurt.

His kindness, his dearness in not letting it go as soon
as he knew she told lies for money seemed to her some-
thing to remember afterward with the certainty of the two
presences that came to her last night and the feel of the
golden key.

" Why," said Brooke, having not much of a voice to
say it, and letting her hand loose a very little, " why, my
darling, then you did wait for me, after all."

She looked at him now, and more and more he seemed
a part of the night and the golden key. But there, with
the immobile presence beside them, they stopped. Andrea
was still sure that although he forgave her she had proved
too poor a thing to be admitted again to the heaven where
she had lived with him in fancy, and Brooke knew they
were already there in the heaven and that he could pres-
ently tell her so. But this moment belonged not to him
but to the dead. The body lying there insisted, by its


very presence, on all the rites and oblations due the clos-
ing of the account of dust with dust. Brooke held up the
case before her.

" What shall I do with it? " he asked. " Let me keep
it for you till Father'll put it in the safe."

At that she had her little rueful smile, and this too was
a thing she could not go into now. Why tell him olym-
pium had been capriciously, by one of those turns of the
hand of fate that seem so idle and yet are full of a deep
intent, snatched away again and covered from the eyes of
men? Were the gods really jealous, she wondered briefly.
Was their only supremacy this secret of the continuance
of things, and did they fear for their own godhead if they
gave it over into mortal hands? And then for an instant
she had again the feel of the golden key. She sat looking
at the familiar case, wondering. They had guarded it so
long, she and her father, that it seemed to her impossible it
should not carry some vast significance.

" How does it feel? " she asked. " Is it light? Could
there be something in it, do you think? '

" Something in it? " he repeated. " Why, isn't his
olympium in it? '

That she did not answer.

" Yes, keep it," she said. " Open it when you feel like
it and see. And now will you look over those papers on the
desk? They were what he was working on last night. See
if they are directions. See if you can find a sort of chart."

He went over to the desk and began examining the pa-
pers page by page, reading, comparing, frowning more
and more. Finally he rose and came to her, evening their
edges thoughtfully.

" I'm pretty sure," he hesitated, " I'm sorry, but I'm
sure his mind wasn't working right. They are Andrea,
dear, they're not what you'd expect."


That was a long way from describing their madness of
confusion, but it was, he felt, all he could say.

"Aren't they," she seemed begging him to agree,
" aren't they scientific data, something like that? "

He shook his head.

" They're theorizings," he said, " about the distances
of planets and the influence of elements and the travelling
of sound. They're not coherent even. No, there's noth-
ing, Andrea, nothing."

" There's a chart," she insisted. " There must be a

He showed her a sheet traversed by one wandering line.
In a corner of the page were figures, the words " ten
feet from the corner, thirty bricks west," and then the
whole had been effaced by a scrawling network of lines
and written under it, as if in a tempest of bewilderment
was the word, three times repeated, " no no no."
She was right. The gods had hidden the evidence of im-
mortality under the bricks of an unknown street. But
she sought for the feel of the golden key and was con-

" I'll take the whole business away with me," said
Brooke. " Andrea ! '

She looked up at him and waited.

" She's back again," he said, " your woman. Leave her
here and come out for a little walk."

" Oh, no," said Andrea. " I promised him I wouldn't
leave him. I did this morning because I had to run out
and tell the man to send somebody in. But I couldn't
quite help that, and it didn't seem to matter because he
had just spoken to me, and they'd both been here. I
know her dress was blue ! That was the queer part of it.
And besides, the olympium wasn't here and he hadn't had
time to tell me what to do."


All this troubled Brooke exceedingly, because, not un-
derstanding, she seemed to him light-headed. But the
nurse came and stood in the doorway, looking kind and
capable, and Andrea smiled at her as if she liked her, and
Brooke read the counsel in the woman's eyes, and, with a
word to Andrea, took up the case again and went away.

His father was still in the library and Brooke burst
in on him.

" See here," said he, " why don't we go over to Tech and
see what's in this thing? '

Peter laid down the pen that gave him pretext for his
solitude, and rose.

" What's in it? " he repeated. " Why, don't they know
what's in it? "

"She doesn't," said Brooke. "And he father, he's

And all that occurred to Peter to say was " Poor devil ! "
It was not even in his mind to say " Poor girl ! ' He
could not cajole himself into any decent pretence of think-
ing Andrea was not most mercifully set free.

" I thought I'd better bring it away with me," said
Brooke. " She's in no state to be reminded of it. Now
what do you think of taking it over to Tech and getting
it analysed? !

" It's locked, isn't it? " said Peter. " She give you the
key? "

" No. I couldn't bother her. I'd rather break it open.
I'll take the responsibility. Dad " he hesitated and
finished, in a manly way, " you might as well know I'm
undertaking all sorts of responsibilities for her from now


Peter looked at him, tried to say the proper thing, won-
dering what it was, failed, got up, put his hand on
Brooke's shoulder and asked:


" She isn't alone down there? '

" No, there's a nurse with her. That's the best we can

" You run up," said Peter, after another minute of
thought, " and tell your grandmother: just that he's dead,
you know, and how you left her."

Brooke found the rest of that forenoon a processional
of strange things. He ran up to grandmother, who was
in bed, and succinctly reported all he had learned at An-
drea's, qualifying nothing, and she looked at him out of
the lace clouds that obscured the ills time had done her
and said:

" Yes, dear. I'll get up."

He ran downstairs and found Beatrice standing with
his father at the library door, pink from her morning walk
and subtly not the Beatrice of yesterday. Brooke stopped
with a jolt of the heart, knowing he should never see the
Beatrice of yesterday again. She was quietly confident,
and, if looks meant anything, what those who have lost
the world call happy. She was evidently, at the instant
of his downward rush, trying to tell Peter something diffi-
cult, and the slightly dropped lids gave her face that ex-
quisite softness and wonder of knowledge mothers wear.
But she roused herself for Brooke and gave him, with the
old smile of youthful understanding, something ineffably

" Morning, Brooke," said she. " I've been trying to
tell him " with a hand returned to Peter " how differ-
ent everything is now I've heard. I was right, you see.
He did like me. I was the one. And life isn't so awfully
long anyway. I'm not going to whimper. I'm going to
play the game."

Peter, delighting in her gameness, yet heard the com-
menting voice of time recognised within him, loving her,


lamenting over her and mourning: " Life isn't so very
long? Not for old age upstairs there in its bed, fight-
ing the last gallant inch, not for me at my breathless
milestone of middle age. But you, poor flower of youth !
how many mornings have got to shed their dews, how
many suns set in lonely beauty on the grave of your re-
membrance! It's a long pull, dear youth, to that goal
of everlasting faithfulness, with oblivion dogging you all
the way." But all he said was:

" That's my girl. Take it standing."

And Brooke, wishing he could tell her about Andrea
and how she and Andrea would like each other, drew back
from flouting her with his own and Andrea's consummate
bliss, and Beatrice went up to find Isabel, and Brooke and
his father set off to Cambridge.

Peter Harvey had a friend in Technology, an eminent
chemist, and him they sought. They gave him no expla-
nation, no previous history of the leather case. They
simply wanted him to tell them what was inside. The
eminent chemist stood by while Brooke broke the lock
and then took it over to a table under a good light and
opened it. There it was, a package done up securely in
newspaper, tied with string. His Eminence lifted it out,
untied it, opened the paper, looked at the contents, glanced
at the two men, went back to the contents again, took up
a pinch of it and let it fall. Then he looked at Peter
again and inquired pleasantly:

" What's the joke, old man? "

" What do you make of it? " Peter asked him.

" Handle it," said His Eminence. " Look at it. Smell
it, if you want to. What do you make of it yourself? '

" Why," said Peter feeling unwontedly small, " it looks
to me like common sand."

" Yes," said the professor drily, " that's what it is,
common sand. Now what's the joke? "


They never told him. They apologised, Peter so
shamefacedly that His Eminence saw there was more be-
neath than he needed to know, and forgave them. They
thanked him and went home. And on the way Brooke
talked to him about Andrea.

Meantime Madam Brooke had got up and seated her-
self by the fire in her own room waiting until Susanne
should tell her Beatrice had gone. When she heard that,
she asked Susanne to tell Mrs. Harvey she wanted to see
her. Isabel came in, subdued, her pink cheeks paled,
her drooping air challenging the kindness the old lady's
was not yet prepared to give her. She went to her mother
and kissed the old lady's proffered cheek.

" What is it, dear? " she asked. " I ought to have come
earlier but Bee has been in. She kept me."

" I'm all right," said Madam Brooke. " There's your
chair. Draw up."

It was a low rocker, almost, though ordinarily capa-
cious, like a child's chair, and when Isabel had taken it
she felt small and indecisive beside her mother who sat
so straight and high and looked so perfectly equipped for
the offices of life. Isabel did not feel equipped. She had
lost Miss Bixby. She had said good-by to her with sor-
row immeasurable and tears unrestrained. She had been
living on Miss Bixby and the pabulum she brought her
from that vague other world. And she sat there and
looked absently into the fire and dreaded the impact of
her mother's kind intellectuality, and her poor lip

" How's Bee? " asked Madam Brooke.

" Beautiful," said Isabel. She was glad to take a de-
laying saunter into Bee's psychology. " She doesn't say
much. About all she says is she's going to play the game.
It's splendid, but I can't help wishing she wouldn't take it


just that way, setting her teeth, you know, holding on.
She might get such a lot of comfort, such direct inspira-
tion "

" Out of automatic writing? " inquired Madam Brooke.
" She couldn't. Bee could no more take comfort in that
than in the witches that befuddled Macbeth. Now Isabel,
how long are you going to keep this house a house of
mourning over your explorations of the dark continent? "

Isabel looked at her with appealing eyes and her lip

" Why, mother," she said, " that's exactly what I'm
trying to prevent. I don't want it a house of mourning.
I want it recognised that Phil isn't dead. He's alive and
we can hear from him every day."

" It isn't Phil's death that's made it a house of mourn-
ing," said the old lady inexorably. " It isn't because the
rest of us don't feel his presence, whatever it is, whether
it's actually Phil or the beautiful memory of him. It isn't
Phil we've lost. It's you."

Isabel was unfeignedly surprised.

" Why," said she, " I'm right here. Nothing has
changed except for Phil."

" Your husband," said Madam Brooke, " has lost his
wife. You used to be Belle, you never knew very
much, but you were a perfect dear to live with. Peter
couldn't come into the house without hooting to find out
where you were. He couldn't settle to anything till he
knew. Now he shuts himself up in the library and pre-
tends to write."

" That," said Isabel solemnly, " is his way of meeting
it. It's his grief, for Phil."

1 It's grief for you. He misses you like the deuce. He
may not know it, but he does."

" Does he miss me? " she queried, half to herself.



The pink crept into her cheeks. She looked suddenly
charming and, the old lady noted, with a pathetic wonder,
young. But she wasn't sparing her.

" As for Brooke," she said, " you act as if boys came
back every day from where he's come from. If it
hasn't hurt him more than it has, it's because he's in

" In love? " cried Isabel. " Brooke in love? "

" Yes, with Andrea Dove. Haven't you seen it? '

" That girl! " cried Isabel, the angry spark flitting into
her eyes. " That girl that said oh, it wasn't true. She
might say it till she dropped dead before me, and I should
know it wasn't true."

1 She isn't going to drop dead before anybody," said
the old lady. " She's going to get good and rested now
her father's gone "

" Where has he gone? "

" He's dead," said Madam Brooke. " And we've got
to look out for Andrea till she gets on her feet, and then
Brooke'll look out for her."

"Never!' said Isabel. She rose from the low chair
and stood, making the most of her height. "Never! if
she enters this house I shall leave it."

Madam Brooke sat looking at her for a moment, in deep

" Isabel," said she, " if one of your children committed
a sin for your sake told a lie for instance, to save your
life would you forgive him? "

" No," said Isabel.

But she knew, as Madam Brooke did, that she would.
And Madam Brooke was prepared to tell her so.

"Nonsense!' said she. "Of course you would. A
sin of love committed for your sake ! there's nothing you'd
like better. Well, that's what Andrea Dove did. She


lied to make you give her money as Phil's wife when it
seemed doubtful whether her father'd live to use it if
she got it in any reasonable way. And now he's dead she
doesn't want your money or anything that is yours. Ex-
cept Brooke, of course. I'm in hopes she'll want him or
the poor boy '11 break his heart."

" I was never/'' said Isabel breathlessly, " so indignant
in my life."

"Yes, you're indignant," said the old lady sadly,
"which means you're plain mad. We never knew you
had a temper, Isabel, in the old days before we lost you."

Isabel turned, without a look at her, and went out of
the room. She walked, her mother thought, like Queen
Victoria. Madam Brooke sat bending over her trembling
hands thinking sadly of the way these groups of mortal
atoms fly apart and make their little catastrophes in the
complex order of the movement which is life. But she
had not sat there long before she heard her daughter's
step again, a quick rush unlike her ordinary high-heeled
trot. She came in, up to her mother's knee and sank
down there.

" You won't believe it, darling," she cried, between sob-
bing and excited laughter. " But I've heard from Phil.
Miss Bixby left the last message on the table and I've
just found it. How he managed it I don't know. But
if they can move the pencil in the human hand, why
shouldn't they pick it up when they find it lying there all
ready? Phil has forgiven her. He tells me to forgive
her. And I can do it now. I've heard from him, mother.
Don't you realize I've heard from him? And I'll be good,
mother. Oh, truly I'll be good."

Madam Brooke laid her hand on the beautiful shining
hair. Strange things came into this old lady's mind
sometimes, and now she was thinking that women in grief,


in antique days, tore their hair and covered it with ashes;
but now the despairing mourner omits no last ceremonial
of a symmetrical coiffure. Isabel crouched there like a
child and cried like a child, no controlled and ordered rite
of weeping but honest gulps and floods. When this
abated, she got to her feet, wiped her face and asked quite
timidly, in a way that made her, like a child, engaging:

" Shall I go to see her? "

Madam Brooke shook her head.

" Not yet," she answered. " Not these first days. You
see, you were rather nasty to her. She's in no condition
to be blamed, and it mightn't be easy to convince her you
didn't mean to be nasty again."

" I thought," Isabel ventured, " she might come here to


" Certainly," said her mother, " most certainly. It's
the only way."

" And then," Isabel continued, looking down at the toe
of her shoe, as if she were most desirous of not encounter-
ing any possible negative in her mother's face, " I thought,
as she's been connected with her father's pursuits in that
direction, she might be willing to try the automatic writ-

" Isabel ! " cried the old lady, so stridently that her
daughter started. " Do you mean to tell me you're going
on with this jugglery that's turned you into a changeling
in your husband's house? And after you told me you'd
be good? '

Isabel stood there, still regarding the toe of her shoe.

" Isabel," said Madam Brooke, " come here. Nearer.
Yes, come right here to mother. Now, Isabel, I'm going
to trust you. Do you hear? And you are going to be

" Yes, mother," said Isabel.


And they talked of other things.

" But will she? " the old lady wondered, when she was
again by herself. " Or will she go on muddling her brains
and making her lip tremble so I can't look at it without
wanting to cry? It's an awful thing to make an old
woman cry."

And she laughed, so that Susanne, coming in to mend
the fire, smiled at her sympathetically.

" Isn't it, Susanne? " asked the old lady, and Susanne,
always blithely willing to accept the immediate point of
view, said:

" Yes, Madam Brooke."

" Then," said the old lady, rising, " get a taxi, and if
anybody asks you who's going in it well, when you've
called it you might bring me my bonnet and my cloak."

Andrea, sitting at her watch by the dead, heard ques-
tion and answer in the outer room. In a moment the door
opened and the nurse looked in. But before she could an-
nounce the visitor or explain that she seemed one not to
be denied, Madam Brooke came in, signed the nurse to
leave them and put her arms about Andrea, as she sat,
and kissed her. Andrea thought she had come to tell her
it would be better for her to go out into the air, to go out
to spend the night, or do other of those precautionary
things that are the sane expedients of watchers less ter-
ribly pledged.

" T couldn't," she said, rising and holding the dear old
hands and looking into the kind eyes. " I promised him.
I've broken a part of it. That may not matter, now he's
really gone away. Besides "

"Besides," said the old lady, "you couldn't bear to.
Of course you mustn't leave him. No, my darling! But

later later "


She smiled, still looking steadfast and kind, and An-
drea knew that here was somebody else who had felt the
touch of the golden key. And Madam Brooke had
called her darling. More than that, she had kissed her,
and the word and chrysmal touch were mysteriously not
for Andrea's present comforting alone but a deeper solace,
declaring, a3 they did, the knowledge of the wonder, pain
> and joy of youth and the long way it has to go.

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DEC 1 /> 1921

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Online LibraryAlice BrownThe wind between the worlds → online text (page 17 of 17)